User-generated content (UGC) is defined as “any form of content such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats, tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, audio files, advertisements and other forms of media that was created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites“. It entered mainstream usage during 2005, having arisen in web publishing and new media content production circles. It is used for a wide range of applications, including problem processing, news, gossip and research and reflects the expansion of media production through new technologies that are accessible and affordable to the general public. Additionally, user-generated content may also employ a combination of open source, free software, and flexible licensing or related agreements to further reduce the barriers to collaboration, skill-building and discovery (“‘UGC'”) has also gained in popularity over the last decade, as userbases have grown on social media and content-based sharing sites.
UGC may constitute only a portion of a website. For example, there are sites where the majority of content is prepared by administrators, but numerous ancillary submissions are made by the site’s users, such as product reviews or comments.
UGC may be monitored by website administrators to avoid offensive content or language, copyright infringement issues, or simply to determine if the content posted is relevant to the site’s general theme.
There may be little or no barrier to the act of uploading user-generated content, such as memberships or fees. As a result, there are inordinate amounts of UGC that, in addition to creating a corporate asset, may also contain data that can be regarded as a liability. The University of Illinois concluded from its 2012 research that one-third of all UGC web reviews were fake, either with the purpose of boosting or denigrating a product.
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